life lessons

Are Parents to Blame For Picky Eaters?

by Samantha on June 20, 2015

Whose fault is it when kids refuse to eat what's put in front of them?


girl picky eater

We’ve all dealt with the picky eating habits of our kids at one time or another. Whether it’s a disdain for broccoli or a dislike of asparagus, most parents have had to negotiate with their children about certain types of food that said child has deemed “gross.” I’ve done it myself and have used every trick in the book to get my kids to eat what I think to be a balanced and sufficient meal.

But what about those kids who consistently decline most food items put in front of them, demanding, instead another meal selection, snack or pronouncing a downright refusal to eat at all? What about them? Where did they get their chutzpah?

At the risk of being scolded, may I suggest that it may very well be from their parents?

Yes, their parents.

It’s safe to say that many kids are picky eaters because their parents have coddled them. Through fear that they will eat nothing and - gasp - go to bed hungry, they have been provided with their own personal chef and concierge, taking orders and serving meals on demand.

In many households, it is the child (or children) who have been allowed to dictate what is being served. In these homes, the parent(s) gives in to the child’s demands and makes special or separate meals for them. How many of us have given in and said, “okay, if you don’t want to eat this, I’ll make you something else?”

Guilty as charged. And it’s not a stretch to assume that you are too.

As parents (and mothers in particular - there, I said it), we worry about our children’s every need. Whether it’s the fact that they have a runny nose, a fever or the fear that they haven’t had enough to eat (in our opinion), so many of us feel the need to rectify the situation at any cost. It’s this parental instinct that takes over and shifts the balance of power from the parent to the child.

In the case of picky eating, the tendency for the parent to give in to the child’s refusal to eat sets up an expectation that all demands and requests will be accommodated.

In these scenarios, the child feels that they are in control and they don’t have to try anything. Also, it sets them up for unrealistic expectations as adults that they will be given in to whatever they ask for.

Allowing kids to set the stage for meals is just one example of the growing trend towards a child-centred philosophy of parenting. The rise of “helicopter parenting”and an age where over-protection is the norm, not the exception, just feeds (pun intended) kids desire to have all of their demands fulfilled.

Unfortunately, giving in to these demands just sets up kids for unrealistic expectations in the future. As difficult as it may be, it’s in our kids’ best interests to not always give in to their demands, particularly regarding food choices. In the absence of a specific allergy or inability to digest certain foods, what’s on the table for dinner should be just that - dinner, with no option for choice. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, when I was a kid, there was no choice - each meal was what we were eating and that was it. No consulting with us kids about whether or not they wanted to eat it, what they wanted instead, or why they didn’t like it. Not eating meant that they’d likely have a grumbling tummy and a voracious appetite the following morning.

It’s a hard thing to do, denying your child their preference for food, as there’s always the fear that they’ll starve. They won’t. Especially if there’s a fridge full of food and a healthy balanced meal in front of them that they have chosen not to eat. As difficult as it may be, as parents, we are obliged to teach our kids that there are not always choices in life. As they grow up and later when they become adults, they will need to know that sometimes, the luxury of choice is absent. More importantly, it’s crucial that children learn early to be flexible, accommodating and that sometimes they will have to just go with the flow and deal with the situation at hand instead of assuming that there will be an option. There won’t always be one.

Is your child a picky eater? How do you respond when your child won’t eat their meal? Do you give in or say “no?” Tell me about it in the comments section below.

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Some basic tips to help parents with common parenting challenges


Top parenting tips

Ever feel like parenting is this big secret that you’re not in on?

It’s no surprise that most of us feel like this at one time or another.

Let’s face it - being a parent is tough, to say the least. What to do and how to do it are on the minds of most parents at any given time.

Some time back, I wrote this post - Parenting Advice That You Were Never Told - and the information included was so basic yet so true, that I thought I’d revisit the topic again, this time via video.

Check out my YouTube channel for the latest clip where I provide some quick and easy parenting tips on this very subject and let me know what you think! If you have any additional tips to add, please do so in the comments section below, or on YouTube.

The Top 5 Parenting Secrets You Were Never Told

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How to help your child get through the loss of a beloved companion

Boy and turtle

There comes a time when most parents must deal with the inevitable - the death of a beloved family pet. This occurrence is even more painful when the pet is the particular companion of a young child. Your son or daughter likely grew very attached to its turtle, gerbil, cat or dog and now the beloved pet is gone - a harsh reality for a young mind.

When this very real part of childhood occurs, it’s best to be prepared, so that you as the parent are able to calm and comfort your child while they go through the grieving process. While this is a difficult time, it is possible to get through it with your son or daughter understanding and accepting this very real part of life.

Following are five tips for parents on how to help their child manage the death of a pet.

When Your Child’s Pet Dies - Top 5 Tips For Parents

1) Acknowledge the Loss - It hurts. The death of a child’s pet is a painful experience and is one that often comes as a shock to those unaccustomed to the reality of death. As this is likely the first instance in his or her experience of losing something he/she loves, the reality of what has occurred will hit hard. For a child that has lost its animal companion, it can be all-consuming as well as confusing. Recognizing and acknowledging the pain that your son or daughter is experiencing, and providing comfort while they grieve is one of the first steps towards helping your child through this difficult time. Being there and recognizing your child’s feelings will help them get through it.

2) Leave Time For Grief - Just as with people, pets can’t be replaced. Sure, you can get a new dog, cat or gerbil, but a new animal can never take the place of the one that’s died. For this reason, it’s important to take some time for your child to grieve and reflect on the loss of the pet. While the impulse may be there to soothe your child’s pain, don’t jump in and get another pet right away. Kids need to be allowed to mourn the loss of their pet and realize that while their companion can’t be exactly replaced, a new pet can still bring joy - in time.

3) Give it a Proper Send-Off -  The rituals attached to death shouldn’t end with humans. Ceremonies are important, even if they’re small. Whether it’s a fish, a hamster or a larger pet, giving it a proper goodbye will allow your child to understand that the ritual involved is all part of the process and can often help with healing.

4) Talk Honestly About Death - While it’s a difficult time for your child, the death of a beloved companion can also provide parents with the opportunity to talk about the reality that all living things eventually die. Teaching a child that this sad occurrence is a normal part of life may be hard, but it’s an experience that we all have to deal with at some time in our lives. The loss of a pet can open the door to a difficult topic of discussion but one that is needed and necessary. Answering questions about death can give your child a greater understanding about this reality as well as an opportunity to calm his or her fears.

5) Create Memories With Child - “Gone but not forgotten.” While death is a difficult lesson to learn, children can also be taught that the loss of a loved one - pet or otherwise -  doesn’t mean that the loved one will be forgotten. Memories live on, an important lesson to teach your child in the face of their loss. Help them honour their beloved pet by putting together a scrapbook, photo album, or other memento that represents a permanent tribute to their companion.

How have you dealt with the death of a family pet? What additional tips would you provide to parents who are going through this with their children? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Back to Work After Baby - Top 8 Tips For Moms

by Samantha on January 4, 2015

Simple but proven tips for a stress-free return to the workplace





baby mom

The time has come.

You’ve spent precious moments with your bundle of joy but like many situations in life, this, too, must come to an end.

Work beckons.

And as much as you’d like to stay at home just a little while longer, there are bills to pay and mouths to feed.

A return to work after having a baby can be one of the most stressful and emotional times for moms. After carrying your child for nine months, giving birth then being so closely attached to your baby during this special period, the thought of leaving him or her can cause feelings of both sadness and stress. As well, many moms feel guilty about having to make this decision, which often doesn’t make things easier.

Before going back to the outside workforce, you likely have a number of questions swirling through your mind, often with no clear answers. Some of these likely include:

- Who’s going to take care of the baby while I’m at work?

- How much is childcare going to cost?

- Is my baby going to be okay in the care of someone other than me?

 - How am I going to balance work, home and family responsibilities?

All of these questions are valid and normal, as well as important to be answered for both the parent and the child’s well-being.

Rest assured that you will be fine, and so will your child.

That being said,there are a few things to keep in mind and to have in place before you re-enter the workplace. Follow these simple tips and you and your little one will be ready for your return to work:

Back to Work After Baby - Top 8 Tips For Moms

1) Eliminate Guilty Feelings - Before anything, remember: you are doing this in the best interest of your baby and your family. While it’s natural to feel guilty, keep in mind that your return to work is going to allow you to provide your baby with the things that he or she needs, as well as to bring in needed finances to your household. While it may be difficult at first and you may feel guilt as well as a fear of separation anxiety, know that your actions are what’s best for your family, and will ultimately make a positive difference in the quality of life for all of you.

2) Decide on Breast or Bottle - Regardless of your choice, make provisions for how your child will be fed while you’re away. If you’re going to continue breastfeeding, make sure that you’ve made provisions accordingly. This may include either freezing your milk and/or making sure that you have a place to pump when you return to work, as well as a supportive work environment and employer who will accommodate your choice. If you’re going to choose formula, make sure to test the options so that you’re feeling comfortable with the right choice that your baby will drink when you’re at work. You may also want to consider a combination of both, so investigate your options to assure that everything’s in place when you go back to work.

3) Don’t Try To Do Everything - There are only 24 hours in a day and you’re now going to be working outside the home. For these reasons, make a realistic schedule about what you can and can’t get done, and stick to it. Part of your personal sanity will be directly related to knowing that you’ve done everything you can, and everything else will have to wait. You’re doing what needs to be done for your family - working and taking care of your child - and that’s enough.

4) Get Supports in Place At Home - Whether it’s from your partner, friends, neighbours or relatives, knowing that you’ve got things covered off at home will provide you with a huge feeling of relief as you return to the workforce. Help could range anywhere from childcare arrangements for your baby (see below for more details) to more specific help with cooking, cleaning and other household chores. The goal is to make things as stress-free as possible for you as you return to work so take help wherever you can.

5) Line Up Childcare Arrangements - Depending on where you live, childcare can be one of the biggest decisions to make, both from a financial and emotional point of view. In many urban centres, you may need to have lined up childcare for your baby as soon as you became pregnant; in others, there is more flexibility in terms timing and the choice of caregiver. In both instances, it’s important that you (and your partner) are comfortable with the final decision so that when you leave for work, you are also confident that you’re leaving your precious baby in competent and loving hands. Take the time to thoroughly research and check out your options before making this important decision. As well, do a “dry run” with your care provider a few weeks leading up to your return so that your baby, your caregiver and you are comfortable about leaving your child in care as you return to work.

6) Lower Your Expectations - There are only 24 hours in a day and you’ll be working through many of them. For this reason, it’s important to be realistic about what can conceivably achieved during the work week and the weekends as well. Now that you’re back at work, the house may not be as spic and span as you may like, and laundry may remain unfolded for a time. This is okay. There’s only so much you can do. If you’re able to, engage your partner to help out more, or, if finances allow, hire someone to assist with cleaning and other household chores. If this is not possible, lower your expectations of what can realistically be done in the home and focus on the fact that you’re doing the most important thing - taking care of your family by returning to work.

7) Be Clear on Work Responsibilities - This includes hours of employment, flexibility in scheduling if possible, and day-to-day duties. Ideally, it’s best to speak to your boss or supervisor before you set foot in the office or workplace so that you both have a clear understanding and agreement about what is expected when you return. When you’re both on the same page, things will run more smoothly and there will be no surprises - which are the last thing you need now that you’re back at work.

8) Get an Ally or Good Friend at Work - The return to work will be made less stressful if you know that there’s someone there that you can count on for support and a friendly ear. Ideally, it would be someone who can understand and empathize with the demands of being a working parent and in an ideal scenario, it may even be your boss. Either way, knowing that you have someone in the workplace that you can speak to about your transition back to work and its inherent challenges can make a world of difference to your state of mind.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here:

Eight Tips For Moms Going Back to Work Post Baby

Have you recently returned to work after maternity leave? What strategies and tips would you recommend for coping during this transitional time? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

VIDEO: New Mom Tips

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Top 5 Tips to Help You Send Your Child Off to School For the First Time

first day of school

For parents whose kids are entering Kindergarten for the first time, the stakes are high. Not necessarily for the child but oftentimes more so for the parents. Having been home with their son or daughter for a number of years makes the prospect of sending them off to school particularly anxiety-inducing. Though their kids may have gone to selected preschool classes, play groups or similar social situations, Kindergarten signifies “the big leagues.”

For first-time parents, there is often anxiety, fear and stress felt by the prospect being away from their child and relinquishing responsibility to someone other than themselves. The unknown - in this case a classroom, other kids and a new teacher - can feel particularly daunting.

I’ve written about the first day of school before from the perspective of the child but realize that oftentimes, it’s the parents who need some support and encouragement. Below are some simple tips for those who are facing the prospect of sending their child or children off to school for the first time.

Sending Your Child to School For the First Time - Top 5 Tips For Parents

1) Your Kids Will Be Fine - Kids are a lot more resilient than we think. Surprisingly, they often step up to the challenge and thrive when they’re beyond the protective gaze of their parents. Have faith in both your child and the teachers who understand the anxiety felt by both parents and children. They’ve been there before, and know how to support your child in feeling comfortable, safe and ultimately excited about being in school. By the end of the day, they’ll have stories to tell, artwork to show you and introductions to their new friends (to you!) to make.

2) Tears Are Normal - Yes, they may flow at the prospect of leaving you. Take that as a given. Also realize that the tears will stop as soon as your child enters the classroom and sees the whole new world that is opened up to them at school. Art, reading, writing and toys await and you will be but a distant memory (in a good way of course) while your child ventures into the (relatively) grown-up world of Kindergarten.

3) A Blankie or Teddy Goes a Long Way - Yes, you’ve been your child’s security blanket for so long but when they start school, they’ll need something to keep them going during the day. Don’t underestimate the importance of your child having their favourite special item, whether it’s a blanket, sleep toy or doll. Having such an item with them during their first venture into the school environment will make their day so much easier.

4) Independence is a Good Thing - This is a first step for your child towards independence. And while it may be a difficult one for both of you, it’s an important and positive milestone in their life. Being able to separate from their parents is key to gaining a strong sense of ability as well as self-confidence. And as much as it may be difficult to push them out of the proverbial nest, it’s ultimately in their best interest. Today, Kindergarten, tomorrow - the world!

5) Get Educated - Fear of the unknown often adds to our stress and anxiety and sending our kids off into “The Great Unknown” - in this case, school - is no different. Assuage your fears about the first day of school through your own education of what will occur. Just as your child will be learning in the classroom, you too can learn everything you need to know about your child’s curriculum before they begin the formal learning process. Where possible, contact the school, meet and/or speak with your child’s new teacher(s) and familiarize yourself with the class schedule. You’l feel better and more confident about your child’s new adventure once you have all of your questions answered.

Are you feeling stressed about sending your child to school for the first time? Or, do you have any additional tips that can make the transition smoother? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

 Image courtesy of www.chfi.com

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The Sting of Disinheritance

July 1, 2014

Do We Owe Our Kids Our Money After We’re Gone? You think that kids of celebrities have it easy? Think again. Sting’s surprising announcement that he’s not leaving any of his vast fortune to his children was a shock to many. How could this multimillionaire leave his kids to have to *gasp* work for a […]

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Diversity And Kids - Top 6 Tips For Parents

May 22, 2014

“Mom, why does she look different?” This is a question that many of us have had to grapple with as we raise our kids in an increasingly multicultural and multiethnic society. As a person on colour myself, I’ve been on the receiving end of the question and can still remember an incident (one of many) […]

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What Type of Role Model Are You?

February 25, 2014

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” A wise saying and one that’s more true than many of the adages that we’ve heard over the years. The phrase is one that indicates what most of us already know: that what we do and how we behave is often mimicked and replicated by our kids. […]

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The Top 5 Life Lessons Learned From Nelson Mandela

January 1, 2014

In 2013 we lost Nelson Mandela. A role model, a teacher and an undying supporter of human rights and equality, he was cherished by so many around the world. Regardless of their race, colour or religious affiliation, he united us through not only his words, but his actions and treatment of others. He taught us […]

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Preparing Your Child For the First Day of School - Top 7 Tips

August 24, 2012

Ease your child’s back to school anxiety with these simple tips The first day of school is just around the corner and parents and children everywhere are preparing anxiously for their big moment. This is especially the case for children who are going to school for the first time. The thought of school with “big […]

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